Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Morris of Bolton, B.
Neuberger, B.
Noakes, B.
Northesk, E.
Northover, B.
Norton of Louth, L.
O'Cathain, B.
O'Neill of Bengarve, B.
Oxburgh, L.
Palmer, L.
Park of Monmouth, B.
Patel, L.
Pilkington of Oxenford, L.
Portsmouth, Bp.
Puttnam, L.
Ramsbotham, L.
Rawlings, B.
Razzall, L.
Redesdale, L.
Rennard, L.
Roberts of Conwy, L.
Roberts of Llandudno, L.
Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Rogan, L.
Roper, L.
Ryder of Wensum, L.
Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly.
Scott of Needham Market, B.
Seccombe, B. [Teller]
Selborne, E.
Selsdon, L.
Sharman, L.
Sharp of Guildford, B.
Sharples, B.
Shaw of Northstead, L.
Sheikh, L.
Shutt of Greetland, L. [Teller]
Skelmersdale, L.
Smith of Clifton, L.
Soulsby of Swaffham Prior, L.
Steel of Aikwood, L.
Stern, B.
Stewartby, L.
Taverne, L.
Taylor of Holbeach, L.
Teverson, L.
Thomas of Gresford, L.
Thomas of Swynnerton, L.
Tonge, B.
Tope, L.
Tordoff, L.
Trefgarne, L.
Trenchard, V.
Tyler, L.

11 Mar 2008 : Column 1448

Ullswater, V.
Vallance of Tummel, L.
Verma, B.
Vinson, L.
Waddington, L.
Wade of Chorlton, L.
Wakeham, L.
Wallace of Saltaire, L.
Wallace of Tankerness, L.
Walmsley, B.
Walpole, L.
Watson of Richmond, L.
Whitty, L.
Wilcox, B.
Williams of Crosby, B.
Williamson of Horton, L.
Windlesham, L.
Young of Old Scone, B.


Acton, L.
Adams of Craigielea, B.
Adonis, L.
Ahmed, L.
Alli, L.
Anderson of Swansea, L.
Andrews, B.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Ashton of Upholland, B. [Lord President.]
Bach, L.
Barnett, L.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Bernstein of Craigweil, L.
Billingham, B.
Bilston, L.
Blackstone, B.
Borrie, L.
Bradley, L.
Bragg, L.
Brennan, L.
Brett, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Brookman, L.
Brooks of Tremorfa, L.
Burlison, L.
Campbell-Savours, L.
Clark of Windermere, L.
Clarke of Hampstead, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Corbett of Castle Vale, L.
Crawley, B.
Cunningham of Felling, L.
Darzi of Denham, L.
Davidson of Glen Clova, L.
Davies of Coity, L.
Davies of Oldham, L. [Teller]
Dearing, L.
Desai, L.
Dixon, L.
Dubs, L.
Elder, L.
Evans of Parkside, L.
Falconer of Thoroton, L.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Faulkner of Worcester, L.
Filkin, L.
Foster of Bishop Auckland, L.
Foulkes of Cumnock, L.
Gale, B.
Golding, B.
Gordon of Strathblane, L.
Goudie, B.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Griffiths of Burry Port, L.
Grocott, L.
Harris of Haringey, L.
Harrison, L.
Hart of Chilton, L.
Haworth, L.
Henig, B.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hollick, L.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Howarth of Breckland, B.
Howarth of Newport, L.
Howells of St. Davids, B.
Howie of Troon, L.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Joffe, L.
Jones, L.
Jones of Whitchurch, B.
Kinnock, L.
Kirkhill, L.
Layard, L.
Lea of Crondall, L.
Leitch, L.
Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.
Macaulay of Bragar, L.
McDonagh, B.
Macdonald of Tradeston, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L.
McIntosh of Hudnall, B.
MacKenzie of Culkein, L.
Mackenzie of Framwellgate, L.
McKenzie of Luton, L.
Mallalieu, B.
Massey of Darwen, B.
Maxton, L.
Mitchell, L.
Monson, L.
Morgan, L.
Morgan of Drefelin, B.
Morris of Aberavon, L.
Morris of Manchester, L.
Morris of Yardley, B.
O'Neill of Clackmannan, L.
Patel of Blackburn, L.
Patel of Bradford, L.
Pendry, L.
Pitkeathley, B.
Plant of Highfield, L.
Prashar, B.
Quin, B.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Rea, L.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Rooker, L.
Rowlands, L.
Royall of Blaisdon, B. [Teller]
Sandwich, E.
Sawyer, L.
Scotland of Asthal, B.
Sewel, L.
Simon, V.
Smith of Leigh, L.
Snape, L.
Soley, L.
Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Stone of Blackheath, L.
Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Taylor of Bolton, B.
Thornton, B.
Tomlinson, L.
Tunnicliffe, L.
Turnberg, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Vadera, B.

11 Mar 2008 : Column 1449

Warner, L.
Watson of Invergowrie, L.
Wedderburn of Charlton, L.
West of Spithead, L.
Whitaker, B.
Wilkins, B.
Woolmer of Leeds, L.
Young of Norwood Green, L.

Resolved in the affirmative, and amendment agreed to accordingly.

6.12 pm

Lord Rooker moved Amendment No. 132:

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Campbell-Savours moved Amendment No. 133:

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I shall be very brief. The Bill states:

and my amendment would add at the end,

With regard to the functions of the committee, Clause 27 refers to,


Substantial functions are set out for the committee in Clauses 27 and 28. Bearing in mind how substantial they are, I am trying to establish clearly in my mind which of the functions could be given to an individual member or, indeed, an individual employee of the committee. I beg to move.

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: My Lords, I shall speak to both amendments, as they seem to address the same issue. They attempt to ensure that important decisions remain in the hands of the committee members. We want the Committee on Climate Change to have the power to create sub-committees to investigate areas that it deems appropriate. Notwithstanding the vote on the last issue, however, we do not want the sub-committees to be making decisions on the most vital and high-profile issues listed in Part 1, such as the 2050 target, the carbon budgets or the determination of whether the Government are meeting their objectives. I do not expect the committee to shy away from those responsibilities nor do I want to give the impression that we on this side of the House want to manage, in a pejorative sense, the committee.

We welcome the fact that the committee will have a large degree of autonomy. However, we still feel that it should be the responsibility of the committee members to make the big decisions, if only for the sake of the decisions themselves. The report assessing the Government’s progress, to take one example, would have more public resonance and more of an impact across Whitehall if it came from the committee itself. The Minister said:

11 Mar 2008 : Column 1450

It seems that the Minister agrees with us about the importance of the committee taking the mantle of the decisions. Why, then, is he opposed to giving us an assurance on that? We do not intend to meddle in the operations of the committee; we simply want to ensure that the tasks that the Bill places on its shoulders are clearly defined. With this amendment we simply want to ensure that the responsibilities of the committee are crystal clear.

6. 15 pm

Lord Rooker: My Lords, before I respond to the amendment, I want to say to the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, who is not in his place, that, for completeness in relation to the previous debate, I draw his attention to Clause 10(3), which states that nothing in that clause or in that list is to be read as restricting the matters that the Committee on Climate Change or the Secretary of State may take into account. I draw that to his attention, as it saves having to wing letters around Whitehall.

These amendments would restrict the ability of the Committee on Climate Change to delegate any function, no matter how minor, to a sub-committee, employee or individual member. While we understand that there is concern, which we discussed in Committee, that any advice or reports made by the committee should come with its full authority and not be delegated, we do not consider the amendment to be appropriate or proportionate. In practice—I am sure that this is not what is intended—the amendment would mean that, for example, the chief executive could not take a decision about appointing a junior member of staff to the secretariat or the secretariat could not decide to commission research from a particular organisation. All decisions, including those relating to perhaps relatively insignificant operational tasks, would need to be taken by the committee as a whole. That does not seem sensible and I cannot believe that that was what was intended, as it would hinder the running of the organisation.

As I said in Committee, we consider it very unlikely that the committee would ever delegate in full one of its core functions. The committee’s members will be, and indeed are, distinguished and respected experts in their areas, some of whom have considerable experience of working in similar bodies. I do not believe that any of them would wish to risk their credibility by allowing a sub-committee to offer advice to the Government or to report to Parliament on the committee’s behalf without having played a significant role in the development of that advice. While the committee may well choose to establish a sub-committee to look at specific issues and ask secretariat members to write sections of its reports, we are confident that it will take responsibility for the discharge of its functions under the Bill, as the committee members themselves will ultimately have to take responsibility for the quality of its output.

Since Committee stage, we have looked again at the wording of paragraph 19 of Schedule 1, as I agreed to do, to see whether there is a need to clarify that all

11 Mar 2008 : Column 1451

advice or reports made by the committee must have the authority of the committee as a whole. However, we do not believe that there is a case for amending it or for accepting the amendment tabled by my noble friend Lord Campbell-Savours. The ability to delegate some functions to a sub-committee, an individual member or an employee is a perfectly standard provision for non-departmental public bodies, so we do not consider that it poses any risk to the robustness of the authority or the credibility of the committee’s advice. I hope that that explanation satisfies noble Lords.

Lord Campbell-Savours: My Lords, the amendment was essentially a probing one to establish whether the Government had any concerns about how the committee would carry out its functions. My noble friend said that it is unlikely that the committee would delegate a core function. The question is whether that is sufficient to ensure that it never happens. I wonder whether my noble friend would consider further tinkering with the wording prior to Third Reading. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 134 not moved.]

Lord Taylor of Holbeach moved Amendment No. 135:

The noble Lord said: This group of amendments concerns public participation and the functions of the Committee on Climate Change. I shall speak to the group as a whole before addressing individual amendments. The idea of including the public was well received on all sides in Committee. It was understood that the intention was not to water down the scientific objectivity of the committee but simply to recognise that these decisions are not made in a vacuum. The benefits of great public confidence in the committee and its decisions could be the difference between meeting the targets and not meeting them, given that the public have a very large role to play in mitigating climate change.

I was pleased to hear in Committee that the Minister was willing to consider including a mechanism to ensure public participation. However, I was slightly disappointed when I saw what had been brought forward, which seems to me to be perhaps the weakest duty that can be written into law. There is no duty at all to engage with the public in the government amendment. There is merely a duty to think about whether public participation is a good idea. The government amendment states:

That is almost like having no duty at all. Under this construction, the committee could conclude that it was a good idea to have public participation and even think that it was very important, but then, having satisfied the legal requirements, do nothing at all.

11 Mar 2008 : Column 1452

That amendment places a duty to discover whether or not it is a good idea to involve the public. Our amendments begin with that idea as their foundation. Why are the Government being so timid? We say that it is desirable to have some element of public participation. We are not trying to dictate what form this should take; that is up to the committee. However, we simply feel that the government amendment is far too weak. The goal was perhaps to say something like, “The committee must have regard to the fact that public involvement is desirable”, but that is manifestly not what is in the amendment. The text places a duty to “have regard to” the idea of “desirability”—or at least it could very easily be interpreted as such. This is entirely insufficient. Even if the amendment were phrased as I have just suggested, it would not amount to much of a duty. Simply taking note that public participation is something that people might want is not enough.

If this House feels that there is a need for some form of public involvement, I hope that it recognises that the government amendment does not provide that. Our wording is stronger. It would place a duty on public participation without binding the hands of the committee. It would simply place a duty on the committee to take all reasonable steps to ensure effective public participation. Does the Minister think that this is too inclusive? Is his aim to provide a way for the committee to avoid public engagement? Does he feel that taking steps to ensure that there is effective public participation would be too burdensome? What is the reason for the weakness of the government amendment? It seems to me that the wording of the government amendment effectively means that there will be no public participation in practice, whereas under our construction public participation would be guaranteed. There is a world of difference. I beg to move.

Lord Redesdale: My Lords, when I first read the amendments, the one tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, looked much stronger. I thought, as he has expressed so eloquently, that the duty in government Amendment No. 178 was quite weak. I am particularly concerned about this issue because we are talking about the importance of the decision-making of the Committee on Climate Change. That committee will have incredible powers and its recommendations will have real influence on the business, commercial and domestic communities. Each area will find that different recommendations of the committee will have financial and ethical implications on how it conducts its duty.

I do not know about the legal definition in Amendment No. 135, but “effective public participation” worries me, as a whole industry could be built up around lobbying the committee. Each of us receives vast amounts of unsolicited mail and, indeed, a large amount of targeted mail. That will also be the case for the Committee on Climate Change. In talking about “effective public participation”, we may also be giving the lobbyists interesting access, although they, too, will have an important role to play. Although the government amendment seems too weak, it is the one that I prefer and it will probably be carried. My problem with it is that, if the committee takes a strong view and rejects public opinion, it will alienate sections of the public who feel strongly about certain other issues.

11 Mar 2008 : Column 1453

Lord Rooker: My Lords, if I were in a belligerent mood I would say that we are coming close to trying to micromanage the operation of the Committee on Climate Change. That could be perceived outside. We are not going to give lobbyists or NGOs ownership of the Committee on Climate Change. Nobody in their right mind would want to do that. However, the committee must be open and transparent and it must have a reaction or interaction and dialogue with the public in the same way as all other non-departmental public bodies have. That is just good practice and what normally happens. It is not as if we have never put together a non-departmental public body. This is not just some committee—the term “committee” sends the wrong signal—it is a non-departmental public body that will operate in the same way as others.

I realise that in our previous debate a recurring theme was the importance of the relationships between the Committee on Climate Change, the Government, Parliament and the public. We emphasised the importance of ensuring democratic accountability within the framework of setting carbon budgets. I said that for the public to hold the Government to account the carbon budgeting framework must be transparent and accessible.

Government Amendment No. 178 is intended to ensure that where appropriate the committee will take steps to offer the public opportunities to engage in and understand its work. It will be for the committee, as an independent body, to decide how best to do this. It does not matter whether it is a roadshow, open meetings or modern technology; it is up to the committee to decide. The committee has already been taking steps to ensure appropriate public engagement. In November last year, the shadow secretariat to the committee issued a call for evidence, explaining its proposed work programme and inviting feedback and further evidence. This month, it will be holding a series of introductory workshops where it will set out its role to stakeholders and explain its proposed approach to the 2050 review and the carbon budgets.

6.30 pm

By tabling our amendment, we are seeking to ensure that the committee has regard to the desirability of engaging with others and to encourage it, where appropriate, to take steps to do so. It just has to be mindful of the benefits of engaging the public in its work. Our amendment is an effective part of our package of amendments to maximise openness and transparency in the climate change committee’s work within the wider legislative framework. In turn, this will increase the credibility and acceptability to the public of the committee’s advice. Given the potential impact on the general public of climate change and actions to mitigate it, it is right that the committee should be asked to consider how the public might be appropriately involved in its work. Our amendment results from the same intentions as Amendment No. 135 tabled by the noble Lord. Both are intended to ensure that the committee takes steps to engage with the public.

Amendment No. 138 would introduce a new clause that would give the committee a duty to make timely recommendations to the Secretary of State in relation

11 Mar 2008 : Column 1454

to Part 1 of the Bill, and require it to consult the public on what recommendations should be made. It seems to repeat a lot of the issues that we have already discussed, so we are unclear about where it would add value. The Government have tabled amendments on public engagement and transparency, which that amendment also covers. Subsection (1) in the new clause introduced by Amendment No. 138 would place a new duty on the Committee on Climate Change to make timely recommendations. However, Clause 30 already places a duty on the committee to provide advice, analysis, information or other assistance when requested by a national authority in connection with the authority’s functions under the Act or climate change generally. We cannot see how that amendment would enhance the provisions already in the Bill.

I plead with the House to give the committee a fair wind. We should set it up as an independent non-departmental public body, with all its duties, following the good practice of other non-departmental public bodies. We do not get a lot of complaints about them not wanting to interact with the public; they do it on a regular basis.

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for that response. We have been debating these issues for a number of weeks now. I hope that the Minister knows my attitude to the Bill; I think that I understand his. However, I hope that he agrees that government Amendment No. 178 can be read in a rather negative way. Our amendments were specifically designed to address the issue, which has come up before, of the need to have public opinion and engagement to make a success of the Bill and the mission to affect climate change through carbon emissions. I hope that the Minister’s words reinforce his view, and will reinforce the view of the climate change committee, that it is desirable to engage with the public. On that assurance, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Rooker moved Amendment No. 136:

“Publication of advice etc(a) information it could refuse to disclose in response to a request under—(i) the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (c.36), or(ii) the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (S.I. 2004/3391) or any regulations replacing those regulations;(b) information whose disclosure is prohibited by any enactment.”

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 137 and 138 not moved.]

Clause 27 [Advice in connection with carbon budgets]:

Lord Campbell-Savours moved Amendment No. 139:

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page